Genre(s): Action, Suspense, Thriller
Anchor Bay | R – 90 min. – $30.99 | December 2, 2014
THE MOVIE – 2.25/5
Note: This review contains spoilers about the plot.
“Never underestimate a girl with nothing to lose.” And while we’re at it, never underestimate a movie copying from so many, often times better, movies.
I should make something clear, I’ve never even heard of the anime Kite was based on, let alone ever seen it, so I can’t speak to how well it adheres the the source material, though based on reading some comments online, it’s far from it. That said, even without knowing about the anime, this feature film is fairly mundane and even lags despite a short running time.
Kite is set in another dystopian society where the financial system has collapsed and hoards of nomads known as “Numbers” scour the streets, kidnapping kids and selling them to what are known as “Flesh-Cartels” led by a man known only as the Emir. Being a dystopia, buildings are in shambles and mostly unoccupied save for the unsavory elements. In any case, our main character is Sawa (INDIA EISLEY) whose father and mother were murdered and since is seeking revenge on the Emir.
At the film’s opening, she’s going through the ranks of the criminal underworld of human trafficking one-by-one. In our introduction, she quickly dispatches a punk in an elevator. How does she have these skills? Well, we find out Sawa is addicted to a drug known as an “amp” which gives the injectee all sorts of Nikita-like skills – and eliminating bad memories – in addition for the propensity to wearing skimpy outfits and pink wigs apparently. She receives help, in addition to supplying a fix to her amp addiction, from police detective Karl Aker (SAMUEL L. JACKSON), former partner to Sawa’s dad and who now looks out for her.
A tip from her elevator kill leads to a middleman which leads to killing his boss and more kills in some, let’s say, creative ways (one such via a vibrator). Shadowing Sawa on her journey of bloodshed is a childhood friend, Oburi (CALLAN MCAULIFFE), whom she can’t remember, but has a connection with her parents’ death.
As Aker attempts to cover Sawa’s tracks from fellow investigators, she goes on a rampage determined for revenge, and goes further down in the underground criminal world while also cleaning up collateral damage involving a teenage girl whose father was murdered by the Numbers.
Early on, Kite actually wasn’t a half bad film, even if does parrot key beats of a Luc Besson action-flick from an ass-kicking lead actress to over-the-top action/fight scenes and an off-kilter city/world. Of course, under the direction of Ralph Ziman, filmed in his home country of South Africa, this one lacks the Besson style and has little substance to go with a predictable and mundane script, adapted by Brian Cox based on an apparently popular anime film.
Performances wise, the cast does what they can with the script they have. Newcomer India Eisley, who played Eve in Underworld: Awakening, isn’t bad in the lead role and at least has some charisma; Callan McAuliffe’s role is underutilized and almost feels shoehorned in and a forced love interest; and Samuel L. Jackson is, well, Samuel L. Jackson sans an insane/over-the-top acting is strangely subdued.
One of the issues that plague Kite is that despite a short 83-minute running time, the film does drag and even is a tad boring from the routine fight sequences, again copied from any number of Besson’s movies and its copycats, and a plot that doesn’t quite work especially when we get to a finale anyone could see coming from miles away.
In the end, Kite might’ve had some things going for it but thanks to a script that copies so many other, and often better, films to go along with so-so direction, it’s just a film that never quite could come together in spite of a fine lead performance from Eisley.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 2.0/5
This release comes with a matted, title embossed, slip cover. Inside are the retail DVD Copy and a redemption code for the Digital Copy.
The Making of Kite (25:18; HD) is a relatively lengthy, featurette offering up cast (including Samuel L. Jackson) and crew interviews set against behind the scenes footage and even brief scenes from the anime. It’s nothing extraordinary but a bit more informative than I expected.
Preview – The Possession of Michael King
VIDEO – 4.0/5
Kite kicks all sorts of ass, in a half-hearted manner, presented with a 2.35 widescreen aspect ratio and a good-looking 1080p high-definition transfer. The picture is a bit of a mix bag on the one hand with incredible colors from Sawa’s pink hair, her vibrant dresses and various other scenes but at the same time, it’s not the sharpest transfer. Still, black levels are impressive which is good considering it is a dystopian society and even daylight scenes appear bleak.
AUDIO – 4.0/5
The disc comes with a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track which is effective though not exactly noteworthy. Dialogue does sound crisp and clear throughout and any action/fight scenes does provide some nice depth but it’s still a bit stifled while ambient noises are softer coming from the rear channels.
OVERALL – 2.75/5
Overall, Kite had some potential but only as a competent copy of any number of Luc Besson produced and directed films in spite of an admirable performance by lead actress India Eisley. The Blu-ray released by Anchor Bay is pretty basic with only a decent making-of featurette and slightly above average video and audio transfers.